Graduates boost cancer patient health

Ask University of Queensland graduate Molly Shevill to share an inspirational story from her ground-breaking work with blood cancer patients, and she is spoilt for choice.

Ms Shevill and fellow UQ School of Human Movement and Nutrition Sciences graduate Sam Hall have partnered with the Leukaemia Foundation of Queensland and their employer, Aspire Fitness and Rehabilitation, to release an exercise DVD for people with blood cancer.

Ms Shevill said the free Fit to Thrive DVD complemented an ongoing three-year research program aimed at improving fitness and quality of life while decreasing feelings of fatigue and depression.

"There was one lady aged in her 70s with myeloma (cancer of plasma cells) who was so weak when we first met her that she couldn't hang washing on the line," Ms Shevill said.

"She needed stem cell treatment to fight the cancer, but she wasn't strong or big enough to undergo the procedure.

"On the Fit to Thrive program she improved out of sight.

"After six months she had the strength to receive the stem cells and has continued to grow stronger and healthier."

Another woman had what she thought was an overly-optimistic ambition of riding a bicycle down her street.

Within six weeks she had not only ridden down her street, but also managed a full trip around the block.

"The program started as a pilot 12-week exercise intervention for 30 people, but the results were so promising that it has now become a much larger project," Ms Shevill said.

"After initial assessment, participants receive an individualised program, mentoring, reviews and an introduction to group classes, as well as supporting material.

"The DVD itself is a tool the Leukaemia Foundation identified as a way to better assist those in rural areas, with different levels of activities included, depending on the strength and stage of treatment of the participant."

More information about Fit to Thrive is available on freecall 1800 620 420 or from www.leukaemiaqld.org.au.

Aspire Fitness and Rehabilitation is an arm of the Queensland Sports Medicine Centre.

Media: Ms Molly Shevill, +617 3310 4969, m.shevill@aspirefitnessrehab.com.au ; UQ Communications Robert Burgin, +617 3346 3035, +61 0448 410 364, r.burgin@uq.edu.au ; Leukaemia Foundation of Queensland Ally Tutkaluk, +617 3055 8233, atutkaluk@leukaemia.org.au .